Richard Feely: We have to have drastic CO2 emission reductions on the order of 80% by 2050 if we are to avoid serious impacts on our ocean ecosystems.
Richard Feely, of the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, said that Earth’s oceans are absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, making oceans more acidic. This could pose a threat to ocean life.
Richard Feely: Particularly our shellfish – lobster, crab, clams and oysters -even the basis of the food chain – the plants and green zooplankton that are food for our fish produce calcium carbonate skeletons and shells.
Feely said that acidity is weakening these shells and skeletons, and could eventually prevent some marine creatures from growing them at all.
Richard Feely: The skeletons provide the basis of the coral reef ecosystem, and throughout the world our fisheries resources represent about 20% of the protein resources for about a third of the population of the world. And so, as we see these changes taking place, we’re concerned that many of our fisheries resources would be impacted.
Feely emphasized the global consequences of ocean acidification.
Richard Feely: These problems are serious, but they can be avoided as long as we make a concerted effort to reduce CO2 emissions. We need to do that within the next couple of decades.
Our thanks to:
Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Photo Credit: Paulo Brandao
Beth Lebwohl researches, writes and helps produce science content in audio and video formats for EarthSky. She is one of the authors on EarthSky.org, a script-writer for our podcasts, and helps host our English science podcasts in 90-second, 8-minute and 22-minute formats. Beth came to EarthSky in 2006 from the American Museum of Natural History's Department of Astrophysics, where she was surrounded by some of the greatest telescope-building, equation-wielding, code-writing physicists of our time. And they made her think . . . this science thing . . . it's pretty cool.